Though hardware compatibility with Linux improves with each passing day, users of the free and open source operating system can still encounter problems with particular devices and components.
Aiming to help both manufacturers and users steer clear of any such remaining headaches, Canonical on Thursday opened up to the public its vast database of components that are certified to work with Linux in general and its own Ubuntu distribution in particular.
"There has not been a comprehensive, up-to-date, freely available catalogue like this for a long time," said Victor Palau, Canonical's platform services manager. "By making this open and easily searchable, we want to speed the component selection for Ubuntu machines, and allow us and our partner manufacturers to focus on the value-added user experience."
1300 certified components
Available on the Ubuntu site, the catalogue builds on the work already done by the Ubuntu project to list certified machines across the range of active releases of Ubuntu. More than 1300 certified components from 161 manufacturers are now listed by brand and by category, making the catalogue the largest list of Linux-compatible components available, Canonical says.
Listed for chip maker Broadcom for example, notable in particular for the long awaited open source driver it released last autumn, are numerous controllers and other components, including those supported by the new brcm80211 driver. Also listed for each is which particular Ubuntu versions are supported.
Canonical's move is an exciting one for several reasons, all of which will benefit Linux users.
Benefits for all
First, having such compatibility information readily available in one spot promises to make it quicker and easier for manufacturers of Ubuntu or Linux machines to design and get their products to market. That, in turn, will mean more hardware choices for Linux users sooner rather than later.
Companies in the PC and server industries will also have a single place in which to publicise their work in certifying Linux components and make that knowledge freely available.
Business and individual users, meanwhile, can both be sure that the key components in machines they're considering will work with the Linux distribution they like. Last but not least, corporate buyers can specify with greater precision the exact design of the desktops or servers they want to order from manufacturers, sure in the knowledge of a compatible result.
It's a win-win all around, in short, and yet another step toward a fully Linux-compatible world.